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Sunday, January 3, 2010
Quick Take: Packers at Cardinals

By Mike Sando

Three things to know about the Packers-Cardinals wild-card game:

1. The Cardinals have a few injury concerns.

The knee injury Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie suffered Sunday appeared serious at first, but the team called it only a contusion, listing his return as questionable. That suggests Rodgers-Cromartie could be OK for the playoffs. The Cardinals will need him against the Packers' talented receivers.

Ankle and knee injuries forced receiver Anquan Boldin from the game. A thumb injury could affect defensive end Calais Campbell's status.

Arizona removed some starters early in the game Sunday. Others did not play. Antrel Rolle, Dan Kreider, Ben Patrick, Sean Morey and Bertrand Berry were not even active. Adrian Wilson, Darnell Dockett, Karlos Dansby, Kurt Warner and other key players did not stay in the game long.

Berry had 3.0 sacks in his previous four games. He is 34 years old, though, and has not played at a high level consistently this season. The time off Sunday should help the Cardinals' pass rush, which will be a critical element against the Packers. Green Bay significantly reduced sacks allowed in the second half of the season.

2. For Arizona, this matchup beats one alternative.

The Cardinals could have faced Dallas in the first round under one scenario. That matchup could have been tough for Arizona because the Cowboys' Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware can be so disruptive.

The Packers are very good on defense as well and they can win one-on-one matchups against the Cardinals' offensive line. But Green Bay is less dynamic in its front seven after Aaron Kampman's season-ending injury.

Green Bay has a game-changing defensive back in Charles Woodson (a shoulder injury he suffered Sunday could affect his status). The Packers could be vulnerable against three- and four-receiver personnel, however, because nickel back Jarrett Bush has struggled in an expanded role since Al Harris' season-ending injury. Arizona can spread the field with three receivers even if Boldin is limited.

Warner and his deep fleet of receivers have a chance to exploit that matchup.

3. The Week 17 result means what?

Arizona is an all-or-nothing team. The Cardinals have often been at their best when the stakes were highest. They had little to nothing on the line Sunday and it showed. They'll hear about it all week. Expect a much better effort when it matters.

That doesn't necessarily mean the Cardinals will prevail. Their starters struggled against the Packers in the third week of the exhibition season, falling behind 38-10 at halftime. The Cardinals fell behind right away Sunday when both teams still had quite a few starters on the field.

Arizona has something to prove.